Best Over Under Shotgun: 2020 Buying Guide & Reviews

Choosing the best over under shotgun can be a chore – at its core, the O/U shotgun is a simple firearm, but the nuance that comes from the market offerings makes it sometimes difficult to choose a particular gun. This article should help to group some over and under shotguns and give you options based on the best use cases for the guns or the market segment they fit into best.

The over and under shotgun has a lot of use cases and market segments it can fit into as well, so it isn't as simple as listing a bunch of guns that seem to be well made. The categories you group these guns into are so nuanced, that you'll need to identify a best use case for yourself or find a gun that bridges two segments.

In each gun's overview, you can see where the author has suggested these guns fit, and where they excel relative to each other. The prices can vary wildly too – with some guns on the market costing more than 10,000 USD.

For the purposes of the article, we won't go that high on the cost scale, but there will be several guns showcased that will be above the budget level for many shooters.

What is the Best Over Under Shotgun

How to group the over-under shotguns and why these categories make sense

Inexpensive, starter guns that are over/under 

This is the lower end of the pricing spectrum, but given the simplicity of producing an over/under shotgun and the quantity with which these types of shotguns are produced that doesn't mean you can't find good value.

These are typically going to be mass produced products; low on embellishment, or at least on hand fitting or hand finishing and will offer a fine experience for most users.

They will also tend to be multi-purpose guns and not particularly high end from a finishing or materials-used aspect. You won't find top quality Walnut with highly figured grain patterns on this segment of over/under shotguns

High end over/under shotguns 

This is the extreme end of the pricing spectrum, and there are multiple tiers of high end over/under shotguns, with most guns falling into the Under $3500 USD price point and then the significantly higher price point of under $12000 USD.

Both tiers in this segment have a population of guns that reside mostly around that specific price point. That is: If it's an "under $3500" shotgun it's going to be relatively close to that $3500 cost – if it's an "under $12000" shotgun, it's going to be relatively close to that $12,000 cost.

That doesn't mean there aren't random fliers within that spectrum, but many of the guns are in a strict high-level pricing arena.

These shotguns will be elaborately embellished, and made from the finest materials, utilizing the finest finishing techniques and the companies that produce them will have extensive R&D budgets geared towards establishing and refining new technologies.

These guns are produced by the preeminent makers of fine over/under shotguns, and not only necessarily by the largest revenue players.

The shotguns on my list of best over/under shotguns fall into this category:

Hunting specific over and under shotguns

The guns in this segment will be built to capture a set of specifications and capabilities that fit well with the field hunter; generally, there will be a larger range of gauges within a model product portfolio.

Additionally, there will likely be slimmer and more purposeful design philosophies to ensure that field carry weight isn't burdensome. The actions and barrels will be the primary focal point for the finishing aspects of the shotgun, and the stock, while it may be beautiful, won't be built for embellishment generally – rather it will tend to be more utilitarian.

The hunting specific over and under shotguns will generally have more accessories available on a per product model basis, including additional barrel configurations, etc.

Furthermore, you will see this category/segment of the O/U market as the most carried over from other segments, as the O/U shotgun got its fame from hunting before anything else.

The shotguns on my list of best over/under shotguns fall into this category:

Over/Under Shotguns that are competition grade 

These shotguns are generally made with attributes for adjustability and fine-tuning. They are probably part of the high-end price point segments often enough, but that is not a blanket guarantee.

There are plenty of emerging models and makers that are building excellent quality over/under shotguns for lower and lower price points thanks to new interest by market buyers and technology improvements.

In general, the aftermarket supports this segment the best with a robust offering of accessories and gunsmiths who specialize in modifications.

This is also one of the biggest growth segments in the over/under shotgun market – competition capable shotguns. They are realistically a burgeoning market as the overall gun market matures and deepens its nuances across the board.

The shotguns on my list of best over/under shotguns fall into this category:

The Best Over Under Shotguns

Beretta - 686 Silver Pigeon I Shotgun

Beretta - 686 Silver Pigeon I Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Hunting specific over and under shotguns
  • High end over/under shotguns 

The 686 Silver Pigeon is an icon in the field grade shotgun market, with a decided slant towards the hunting guns. The historical performance of this model is well proven, and it stands in elite company as one of the finest hunting and all-purpose guns on the market.

In spite of its price, many consider it to be a supreme value for the hunter who prefers O/U shotguns; with its top tier materials and exceptional fit. It is above the median price of the market thanks to many newer lower priced shotguns, but at the top end of the market, it is actually on the lower end from a pricing perspective.

If you can handle a gun that is built specifically for hunting and doesn't have the same adjustability of some of the competition grade shotguns, it's likely one of the better bargains in the price range thanks to the fine detailing in fit and finish, and the performance legacy.

The model/variant picked here is the 26" barrel length 28 gauge shotgun, that places this gun squarely in the upland bird category.

The lengthy barrel; top quality choke system and the overall light weight that the gun carries make it a perfect gun for times when you might need a second shot at fast moving low flying birds, and still want that sporting challenge of a smaller bore and the control and precision of a shotshell like the 28 gauge.

Pros

  • Incredibly lightweight, especially given the overall dimensions and accuracy potential
  • Unbelievable fit and finish for a gun under 3k USD
  • Fulfills its role perfectly.

Cons

  • Many would say it's too much gun to bring into the field if you expect to have any chance of banging it up

This is best for

Bird Hunters and sportsmen who want the ultimate in challenge in the field – both hitting what you're aiming at, given the 28 gauge bore and keeping the gun in pristine condition so you can pass it on to the next generation.

Browning Citori 725 Trap Over/Under Shotgun

Browning Citori 725 Trap Over Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Over/Under Shotguns that are competition grade
  • High end over/under shotguns 

Another legendary model range, this is the de facto leader by name recognition in the Over/Under market, whether by longevity or by stature and capabilities.

The Browning Citori is a longstanding specialty brand/sub-brand because the shotguns just work. They look amazing, the fit and finish is impeccable and even though the price is steep for most shooters, the value as expressed by current owners, is undoubtedly, there.

It's hard for most shooters who are used to living in a gun space where 500-1250 is the normal price range to see "value" in a $3k+ firearm. In the case of the competition shooter, for many years, the research and development and the performance statistics for this brand line has proven it a worthy top tier competitor.

One of the more muted variants in the Citori line, this is still legitimately a competition gun and offers most of what any hardcore dedicated professional would desire in such a gun whether their game is trap or skeet or clays.

The high vent rib, the compensation and recoil mitigation components and the adjustable comb are huge equalizers for those in just about any competition.

There is more than that to the Citori, it's gorgeous. It's made to fit to a tolerance that is nearly magical for a utility firearm, as a competition gun is, when you factor in the amount of shots that you'll take with it. The Citori is also built to last with one of the best records of durability in the segment.

Pros

  • Stunning good looks
  • Unbelievable accuracy and tolerances
  • Very good recoil mitigation

Cons

  • Many would say it's too pricey to use so hard as you must for a competition gun (those people would not be competitors who understand the importance of using the tool to practice with that you use to shoot competitions with)

This is best for

Seasoned competition shooters who understand the relevance of a high-grade shooter in the routine of a competition shooter. Shooters who want a drastic improvement in adjustability and recoil control, but don't want to spend 10k+ for it.

CZ All-American Over/Under Shotgun 

CZ All-American Over Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Over/Under Shotguns that are competition grade
  • High end over/under shotguns 

CZ, innovative as always has produced a masterpiece for the aspiring trap shooter, or the shooter who wants a gun that will last more than a generation. The All-American Trap shotgun is a multi-faceted, and purposefully built shotgun that offers significant value for the shooter hesitant to make the leap to a higher end gun.

It’s the replaceable locking blocks and the multiple barrel setups that help to provide value, with the standard single (with a massive adjustable vent rib) or double barrel setup. The vent rib adjusts for multiple point of aim settings and the full choke system gives the shooter a lot of options for long ranges or short; small targets or spread.

The All-American is decidedly a shotgun built for competition, but it’s also the type of shotgun that seems right at home in the field with the double barrel setup intact. The beautiful walnut stock is a compliment to the metal work which is simple, but pretty. The adjustable comb allows for further fine-tuning for the competitor and the ability to change out the locking blocks means you can count on the gun to be tight and accurate for many thousands of rounds.

This all makes sense when you are spending so much on a shotgun, and as much as this is a trap shotgun that is meant to bridge the gap for hesitant would-be competition shooters, it is still quite an investment for most.

CZ makes exceptional firearms though, and this is one of the flagship products in their lineup. CZ is also known for adding uncommon value for a smaller price point, and they accomplish that task here too, against difficult competition in the trap shotgun market. For the money you get more creature comforts than with any other gun in the segment – amplified and exemplified by the two-barrel setup.

Pros

  • Standard single or double barrel from factory potential
  • Uncommonly good value for the segment
  • Excellent adjustability
  • Gorgeous, even if understated

Cons

  • This is still an expensive shotgun for most shooters

This is best for

Someone who is trying hard to move forward in competitive trap shooting. Shooters looking for something Different in the space, and willing to “take a shot” on a foreign made gun that caters to American sensibilities (Note: CZ has a long history of making top tier firearms – risk is low).

Stoeger Condor Competition Over/Under Shotgun

Stoeger Condor Competition Over and Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Over/Under Shotguns that are competition grade

Very well placed at the lower end of the market from a pricing perspective, this is another shotgun on this list that offers uncommonly good value for the money, just in different ways than the more expensive guns on this list.

The Stoeger lineup is already value heavy for the price point, but this is a great specimen for showcasing the Stoeger product offering as it attempts to deliver on this model in a segment that has historically been difficult to compete in on the lower pricing spectrum.

This is a particularly interesting shotgun because you get some legitimately useful features at a price point that cannot be matched. These features include an adjustable comb and a very solid 10mm vent rib as well as recoil minimization thanks to the porting.

Additionally, the recoil pad and short fore end make it an easy to handle firearm. The overall weight is 8.85lbs. so it is not super lightweight, but it does boast a 30-inch barrel with a 3-inch magnum chamber.

The looks are simplistic, and the fit and finish isn't what you would get from a Browning or similar, but it is understated and good looking. The "AA Grade" Walnut is also subtly beautiful. The stock design in interesting and has some great aesthetics that juxtapose angular on rounds for a great, refined look.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Plenty accurate for competition shooters who are learning and honing their craft
  • Good recoil considerations

Cons

  • Not the finest fitment for a competition gun
  • The refinement of the features is lacking when placed up against more premium guns

This is best for

New Competition shooters who want a gun they can learn and grow with.

This more detail about this shotgun in my Stoeger Condor Competition review.

Franchi Instinct LX Over/Under Shotgun

Franchi Instinct LX Over/Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Hunting specific over and under shotguns

An aesthetically pleasing traditional hunting shotgun that offers modern design features and materials, with classic design elements and styling. The Franchi brand name has always been a heavyweight in the European shotgun market and their newest offerings highlight their core values well.

These values include lightweight overall shotguns with exceptionally balanced feel and sporty looks. The use of traditional design styling and modern materials makes the Franchi brand stand out among those that adhere to the same design philosophy.

A long barrel and a sub-7 lbs. weight mean you get unbelievable balance in the swing of the gun. The 28 inch barrel offers a 3 inch chamber, which gives you a lot of options in either the 20 gauge or the 12 gauge configuration. This is particularly interesting for the premier use of this gun, which is birds. And just because it's particularly well suited to hunting birds, doesn't mean it isn't a multi-purpose gun. But it sure is a nice option for birds.

The beautiful walnut stock and case-hardened receiver with gold inlays gives the gun a safe queen look at a reasonable price point (about $1500). Super high-end choke system with an external design and the "semi-schnaebel" fore end give creature comforts that you won't find at this price point very easily.

The fitment and finish are superior to most guns in the market price level, and the soft checkering is a refined look that offers utility and great looks. Rounding out the great feature set is the hard, fitted case and the auto ejectors.

Pros

  • Exceptional balance
  • Long barrel (28") but light weight (under 7 lbs.)
  • Great looks without anything over the top

Cons

  • The recoil pad is not particularly soft, so using it as a competition stand-in might be rough on the shoulder

This is best for

Dedicated hunters that want the European styling and a brand name proven in the marketplace for under 1750USD. Bird hunters that have used American guns forever and want to get some of the Euro feel in the field that Franchi can provide.

Mossberg Silver Reserve II Over/ Under Shotgun

Mossberg Silver Reserve II Over Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Hunting specific over and under shotguns

Mossberg has some issues early on with this model range but seems to have ironed out these concerns now. The novelty of the gun goes beyond simple novelty – it is a legitimate option for those who want multiple calibers. You get a 12 gauge and a 20 gauge barrel set that is well fit to the receiver and offers good variability for hunters and beginning competitors.

Let's make sure we clarify the use cases here though – it is more a hunting specific gun than it is a competition gun. It is not a high-end target option and it does have some lacking in the fit and finish department. But that doesn't necessarily discount the value. Mossberg has always been a gun you don't feel bad about using hard and beating up.

Partially because the pricing is low and partially because the guns come with spartan finishes and robust build qualities. This Silver reserve is a step up from Mossberg's normal baseline, but it is still a gun that can be used hard and not mess with your head.

The fact that you can take game of all types because the barrels are interchangeable makes it super versatile, but the specialty of this gun is to be in the field used hard because it's built with a heavy-duty design. 

The Silver Reserve II is also quite liberal with the features it offers for the money – you get two full sets of chokes (5 for each set; 1 set per barrel); and incorporated vent-ribs. The 26inch 20 gauge barrel is easy to handle with the entire 43" gun being under 7 lbs. The 28 inch barrel on the 12 gauge contributes to a 45" overall length and it is also at the 7 lbs. threshold. These are great numbers for in the field and help to make this a solid hunting option.

Pros

  • Inexpensive for a 2-caliber option
  • Mossberg may be rough around the edges, but they are built to last and the company is reputable

Cons

  • Mossberg can feel a little TOO rough around the edges at times
  • Some early issues with the platform made the reputation tank a bit early on

This is best for

The shooter who has a hard time spending a lot of money on a shotgun but does want to be in the O/U shotgun game. The two-barrel platform can be a powerful catalyst for purchase.

CZ-USA Drake Over/Under Shotgun

CZ-USA Drake Over Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Hunting specific over and under shotguns

Probably the best shotgun under $750 dollars in the O/U segment for field hunting use on birds, without all the unnecessary stuff that comes on traditional hunting O/U's. The CZ name, machining capabilities and the proven technologies that come at this price point are amazing once you unpack them.

You are getting the same quality machining that CZ uses on guns that cost 5-8 times the money of the Drake, and yet, because the gun is built to a simple standard and without a ton of finish work, this O/U can be had for under $650 USD.

You get an 8mm vent rib on premium barrels that are 28" long and include 5 choke tubes (Full, IM, M, IC, Cylinder), on a gun that is just under 46" overall. This is a sub 7.5 lbs. shotgun.

For the money, this is a great gun for those who like the simplistic design philosophy and want CZ's track record of producing top tier guns. The price you pay offers exceptional value for a field gun. It's got fit and finish of a gun that is twice the money, but the subdued looks keep the price low. 

Pros

  • The best bang for the buck if you don't want or need a showstopper from the aesthetics perspective
  • CZ is a proven maker that delivers legitimate value

Cons

  • It's plain, but it's also hard to find something wrong with the gun for pure hunting usage

This is best for

Shooters who don’t need the extras and want a gun they won't feel bad about if it gets wet or hits a tree as you hunt. Shooters who know how well CZ guns are made and want an exceptional value.

Benelli 828U Sport Over/Under Shotgun

Benelli 828U Sport Over Under Shotgun

Categories this shotgun fits into:

  • Over/Under Shotguns that are competition grade
  • High end over/under shotguns

A gorgeous, albeit interesting and forward-thinking design that looks different than anything else on the market and feels more modern. The Benelli 828U Sport is a super angular and sleek version of a gun that is built to a hard to match standard. The quality of finish and the innovation in design is what Benelli is famous for.

The company is a Research and development heavy shop that has innovation that most big companies only dream of. Not all of it translates directly to all shooters, but the benefits all meld well together, and you will see an overall improvement in your abilities when using the technology heavy guns that Benelli makes.

In the case of the 828U, you get things like integrated carbon fiber vent rib and multiple recoil reduction technologies including internal stock-based buffers that systematically reduce felt rise and recoil.

The gun is almost fully modular and allows or an easily removable buttstock and trigger group to help custom tailor the experience and help with maintenance.

The barrels feature an external choke system, and a specialized finish with cryogenic treatment which does actually help to minimize surface finish flaws to help improve patterning and reduce deformation.

Benelli is a superstar company when it comes to integrating the newest technologies into their mainstream guns – not that a 4K USD shotgun is usually considered mainstream, but this is a powerhouse offering from the company and looks and shoots amazingly well.

Pros

  • Superior technology integrated into a "mainstream" gun
  • Excellent recoil mitigation
  • Modular build style

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey

This is best for

Benelli lovers, and those who want the most innovative gun on the market without the frivolous surface finish and engraving that is typical of the price point. You're paying for technology, not just for embellishment.

Conclusion

The best Over/Under shotguns are all over the map, and you really have to determine what you are willing to spend and what you want to accomplish with the gun. In the case of competition, adjustability and recoil mitigation as well as solid good looks will always reign supreme.

In the case of hunting guns, you can find uncommon value in guns that eschew high end finishes and aesthetics in favor of solid build quality and standard materials.

What you want to look out for, is a gun that can do everything you want it to do if you're going to only own one; or you will want to research the lower cost shotguns if you need specialty use cases. You can sometimes find a great hunting gun AND a competition gun for the same price as you might pay for a mid-range competition gun that has heavy embellishment. Sometimes/often owning two guns is better than owning one. 

With today's technology and a push by more companies to enter the space, finding uncommon value is much easier to do than in previous years in the O/U marketplace.

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